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Savannah pediatrician says masking should be considered for students in school

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:03 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The rise in COVID-19 cases comes just two and three weeks before many students in our area will return to the classroom.

Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended all students two and older wear a mask when they return, regardless of vaccination status.

That’s a departure from looser guidelines from the CDC that say only those who are not vaccinated should wear a mask. Regardless of which recommendation is followed, experts are agreeing on one thing - masks are important to what some are calling a layered prevention strategy.

Pediatricians say it’s important students go back to school this year. They do, however, believe we need to be smart about COVID-19 prevention as they re-enter the classroom with cases on the rise.

One area doctor says masking should be considered.

“What I am worried about is with this delta variant rising that we are going to see increased cases and it’s going to lead to a difficult start to the school year with the appropriate quarantines for exposure, with the risk of catching it so masking right now is a really good idea. And as the school year goes maybe we can relax those guidelines, but for now I think the AAP’s guidance masks for all 2 and up makes a lot of sense,” said Dr. Ben Spitalnick with Pediatric Associates of Savannah.

Dr. Ben feels masking can help not only keep kids healthy, but also in school. Several districts are set to begin soon with limited social distancing and optional masking. Dr. Ben thinks this may impact cases in schools.

“In an option environment masks won’t be worn so yes, in that situation I do think we’ll see a rise, I hope we don’t.”

The best way to protect yourself against the virus is with vaccination. Doctors say it’s very important when looking at the safety in a school. Dr. Ben says they have seen about a 50 percent uptake in his practice among those 12 and up.

“We wish it was more. There’s a lot of resistance, it’s not as much the kids who are resistant as their parents and I mean I get it they are hit with what they see on social media and with what their friends say and so forth and what we, it’s pretty much across the board if parents have been vaccinated the children will, if the parents are not the children won’t. We wish it was higher and were trying patient by patient to get there.”

Right now only those who are 12 and up are eligible to get a vaccine. So doctors say it’s that much more important that the people around younger kids are vaccinated to protect them.

Some predict the vaccine won’t be approved until later this fall or winter for those 5 years old and up.

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